Today I saw this article (care of twitter, which I am quickly learning to love, so you should all follow the blog!) and while I want to say it surprised me, it didn’t. However, the idea that texting has been deemed keeping “Half-Shabbos” is disappointing to me.
Turning off my phone was the single hardest thing for me when I become Shomer Shabbat. I know many people who hold out on fully diving into this mitzvah because letting go of their phone feels so isolating. I know that’s how it felt for me. It was almost three years before I finally let go of the cell phone, and that was as a 20-something without a smart phone. I can only imagine how much harder it would be with a smart phone as an older 20-something, or as a teen with non-religious friends who all want to be texting.
That said, when I did give it up – Shabbat became so much more powerful. I had to surround myself with live people and have real live conversations if I wanted to engage. If I wasn’t with people, I had to find ways to be comfortable being alone with myself. I went for walks, read books, studied Jewish texts, and learned to appreciate the infamous “Shabbos Schluff” (a Saturday afternoon nap). Now, I have a group of friends who are all checked into Shabbat who enjoy spending time together in the afternoons. And while some may go home to their electronics eventually, while we’re together – its a full-Shabbos environment. We talk about anything that comes to mind without anyone checking their texts or emails. We eat and drink and laugh and argue and just enjoy spending relaxed time together.
How often do you really get the chance to spend time with your friends or family without any other distractions? I get it 25 hours a week and wouldn’t give it up for anything.
To think that by texting you’re keeping half of Shabbat, is a very half-hearted reality. By texting people you are opting out of being in the moment with those you are with. You lose the opportunity to bond in a real way with those you share the incredible bond of Shabbat with. While its hard to start, its worth engaging Shabbat with your whole heart.